Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another One Just Around The Corner

Back home after a great trip to Southern Utah. It was so nice to spend 5 straight days outside in the desert. I've probably spent over a year worth of time in my life deep out in the wilderness of Southern Utah, but I can never seem to get enough. Every time I go there I want to stay for months. We might just head back that way again in a couple weeks.

Up first though, I'll be heading out to California to race the Lake Sonoma 50 miler this coming weekend. It's a super stacked field and should be a really fun race. Got out for a 4+ hour "run" with Joe today and I'm definitely feeling fully recovered from Chuckanut and ready to roll again in 6 days.

After Lake Sonoma I'll just be in Colorado for all of April, doing as much vertical as possible to try to get good and ready for SBER on April 29th. That one is going to be a serious test of early season fitness. I'm planning to head there and give a 100% effort, but certainly I'll be going into that one thinking of it as more of a serious adventure in some cool mountains I've never run in than a serious race. For now though, my racing focus is on running hard and fast for 50 miles this weekend. It feels good to be going out to California with a huge confidence boost from Chuckanut.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chuckanut Race Recap

Had a really great weekend up in Bellingham. The race was super fun and I felt as strong in a race as I have since Western States and Crow Pass last summer. Beyond the race itself this was a really enjoyable event. There were so many people there that I care really deeply for. It felt more like a gathering of good friends than a race.

The race itself I won't go too deep into here. Just a brief summary:

It started out really fast, but the pace felt surprisingly comfortable. Once we hit the first climbing (about mile 7) we were already down to a small group of 3 front runners. Michael Smith was about a minute out ahead of Erik Skaggs and I.

I stayed with Erik through this entire stretch of mostly climbing up to Aid Station 3 (mile 13.3), but I actually didn't think I was feeling very good. I enjoyed this stretch a lot though. I have known Erik for a couple years, but we've never really run together in a race. There was enough uphill in this stretch that we weren't chatting too much, but it was nice to spend that hour or so running stride for stride with him.

After aid station 3 you get onto the Chuckanut Ridge trail and that's when the fun really begins. I still wasn't feeling very good, but I was having so much fun I didn't really care. And then within a few minutes I think the enjoyment I was having on that trail was causing me to begin to feel much better. I felt like I had run to Juneau. This trail was more similar to the trails below treeline in Juneau than any I had ever run on. I knew I was probably feeling pretty good and running well on this trail when I looked back after a few minutes and couldn't see Erik behind me.

Through this whole stretch Michael was still a minute or two out in front of me, but I wasn't thinking much about the race. Just running along having a good time. I felt really good all the way to Aid Station 4 (mile 20.2) and found out I was about 1:45 behind at that point. This is where we began the toughest climb of the race and I instantly fell into a really good groove going up.

A few minutes up the climb I began to transition into race mindset. I started to do the math: if I run 10 seconds per mile faster than Michael for the rest of the race I might be able to catch him just before the finish. Okay, that sounded possible. And upward I pushed, running hard up pitches which I normally power hike in races. And then just a few minutes later, less than a mile from aid station 4 I could see Michael up ahead! I passed him well before the top of the climb and was then just hoping the climb would go on forever. I knew I could put distance on him as long as we kept going up, but I had no idea what would happen when we went flat or downhill. By the top of the climb I probably had one minute on him and then cruised back down to Clayton Beach where he had cut my lead back down to 30 seconds (didn't know this until after the race).

From here it's 6.5 miles of almost totally flat path back to the start/finish area. This stretch didn't feel very good physically, but to my surprise I was able to run it just as fast as we had at the start of the race, and about 3 minutes faster than Michael. When it was said and done I had one of the most enjoyable days of racing I've ever had. Just what I needed.

And now I'm off to Utah for a week of reuniting with the red rock desert.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I'm heading up to Bellingham this weekend for the Chuckanut 50k. Should be a great early season test of fitness. I think I'm in great shape as far as strength and endurance are concerned. I guess this weekend will show if that's enough for such a "fast" race. I've talked a lot in the past about how I think speed work for ultras is very over-rated, but Chuckanut might be one of the races that could prove this theory wrong. But then again, is a race that will likely take the top runners under 4 hours really an ultra?

On another note, there are still a few spaces open for my running camps up in Juneau this summer. I have had a few cancellations in the last few weeks, so as of today I have 1 space open for the June 6-12 session and 3 spaces open for the July 28-August 3 session. I'm going to be distributing almost 600 camp fliers in race bags in the next two weeks, so if you're wanting to sign up I would highly recommend doing it as soon as possible to guarantee a space. Here's the website with all the info.

I'll try to check in with a quick Chuckanut race report on Saturday or Sunday, but after that I'm heading to Southern Utah for a week of desert camping, in which I will probably make a point not to be anywhere near a computer. Lucky me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Salida Marathon

Drove down to Salida, Colorado this past weekend to run in the Run Through Time Marathon. Mostly this was just an excuse to take a road trip, do some camping, check out a town I had never been to (but heard good things about), and hopefully do some decent running on dirt (most of the running I've done in the past 4 months has been on snow). As for the run itself, I had no intention of running very hard as I am racing the Chuckanut 50k this coming Saturday and had no desire to push myself too hard just one week out from that.

In every regard this turned out to be a very satisfying trip. Salida is about the cutest little town in the world and the weather was absolutely amazing all weekend. The run itself went about as expected. I cruised pretty mellow to a 3:33 finish. I would have liked to feel a bit better in doing this than I did, but I was certainly proud of myself for keeping my effort pretty casual and not pushing too hard to run with the 8 or 10 runners who were running out in front of me the entire race. I got to run on about 25 miles of dirt and I got to hangout with a bunch of running friends (both old and new).

The best part of the entire weekend though was that my girlfriend and her daughter went with me and after the race on Saturday we found a great riverside campsite East of Salida and spent almost 24 hours just hanging out doing all the things you do outside with a 4 year old (mud pies, getting poked with cacti, playing in the ice-cold water, etc.). Sometimes I forget how much of my life I have spent "living" outside like this. It's always when I do it for the first time in a long time that I'm reminded of how much I love being outside. And I mean really being outside. Not just getting out for a 3 or 4 hour run, but actually being outside for an entire day or more. Next week after Chuckanut we are going to take a camping trip to Southern Utah for the entire week. Although I'm quite excited about racing Chuckanut, it's this trip after the race that I'm most looking forward to right now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Journeys On Foot

I've gotten in a great little bit of training lately. I've finally worked my way back up to my "normal" training load after taking most of January off. The best thing about being back into shape is that I can just go out and run for most of a day and not get too worn down. Once you get to this point it's amazing the places you can get to simply traveling on your own two feet. For me the most satisfying runs are the ones that have a natural feel to them of getting from one place to another. That is to say the runs that end of feeling like I've gone on a journey or an exploration and running just happens to be my method of transportation.

This past Sunday I did a long run that ended up feeling very much like this. I started from my cabin and ran down to the bus stop in Nederland to meet up with Scott, Dakota, and Joe who had ridden the bus up from Boulder. From there we just ran Eastward and down, linking together a bunch of different trails and gravel roads, until eventually, 30+ miles later, we ended up in Boulder and ran to Scott's house. Jenny was sweet enough to go get us all burritos that we ate while I waited for a bus back to Nederland. When it was all said and done it almost ended up feeling like I had just run from my house to Scott's house to eat a burrito and visit with friends.

Then to cap off a great day of running, when I got back to Nederland on the bus I got to run the mile or two back to my house. I was kind of dreading this part of the journey, but it ended up being perhaps the most enjoyable part of the entire run. It was snowing lightly and there was no traffic on the roads this late on a Sunday evening. I was really tired, but I didn't feel this way at all. I just ran down the edge of the dark, quiet, snowy road and felt like I could run down that road forever. This run from town up to my house was about 15 minutes, but at the time it didn't feel like much more than a few seconds. It was really nice to get home, but at the time I really wished that this road kept going and that I lived several miles away.

When it was all over it was one awesome day of foot travel. Here's a few photos taken by Joe:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Montrail Website

The title pretty much says it all: Montrail launched a brand spankin' new website today and it's pretty awesome. Check it out HERE.

Probably the coolest thing about the new site is that you can now order Montrail shoes directly from the website.